Though The Walking Dead fans only learned Carl's fate merely a couple of weeks ago, the decision to kill the character was made far before the AMC series' eighth season began airing.
In fact, the decision to kill Carl Grimes was made and communicated to the cast and crew before they appeared at San Diego Comic Con to offer the new look at the season -- meaning it was not a response to any ratings slides or audience commentary during the eighth season. According to William Riggs (Carl actor Chandler Riggs' father), he and his family learned Carl's fate two weeks prior to his son's birthday. Riggs birthday, June 27, was also a few weeks before San Diego Comic Con, and nearly a full four months before The Walking Dead Season 8 premiere aired.
The Season 8 trailer actually contained the moments which saw Carl getting bit, though the audience would have never suspected such an event to occur based on their expectations for Carl Grimes going forward.
With Carl's fate having been decided early in the summer of 2017, it is all but impossible to change the character's fate even if more than 60,000 fans have signed a petition requesting as much.
The timeline of events appears to go something like this:
- Riggs family learns Carl's fate on The Walking Dead in mid-June.
- Episode 8x06 where Carl is bitten shoots around the end of June.
- Episode 8x08, which is where Carl reveals his bite mark, shoots just before San Diego Comic Con.
- The cast and crew head out to California for Comic Con where they debut the trailer, Riggs may already be done with the show if Episode 8x09 had been shot by the July 21, 2017 panel.
- On October 22, The Walking Dead airs its 100th episode as the Season 8 premiere.
- Finally, on December 10, 2017, AMC airs the midseason finale in which Carl reveals to the characters and world he has been bitten.
- Carl's final living episode airs on February 25, 2018, in the midseason 8 premiere.
Despite rumors in comment sections and across Twitter, Riggs is not attending school at the University of Georgia as planned. He is currently living in Los Angeles and pursuing careers in both acting and music.
The Walking Dead returns for the second half of its eighth season on February 25, 2018. For complete coverage and insider info all season long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.